Since Bill Gates founded Microsoft Corporation in 1975, its mission has been to create software for the personal computer that empowers and enriches people in the workplace, at school and at home.
Microsoft is now one of the largest companies in the world with a turnover in 1999 of nearly $20 billion. It employs over 30,000 people worldwide, with nearly half the workforce engaged in research and development. Microsoft offers a broad array of products which have become an integral part of the way people work, live, learn and communicate. Microsoft products are available in more than 30 languages and sold in more than 50 countries.
The impact of new technology is one of the most exciting and challenging of all the external influences on a company. For some it is also the most daunting. This case study considers one aspect of Microsoft’s current programme, the development of e-commerce and its impact on some of Microsoft’s customers. E-commerce, the use of the Internet for business, is already revolutionising many business sectors due to its speed, reliability, accessibility and low cost.
In the coming years, digital technology will dramatically increase the speed at which business is conducted. Bill Gates himself coined the phrase ‘Business @ the speed of thought’. Technology is already transforming the relationship between businesses and their customers and it will radically change the way that individual workers perform their roles. The ability to adapt to this changing environment will depend on companies’ internal digital processes, what Microsoft calls the ‘Digital Nervous System’.